Tuesday, February 10, 2009

bless us with anger

I thought I would have more to say about about the clergy and the Inauguration and all that, but it turns out I don't, other than this:

If you didn't get a chance to hear/see/read Gene Robinson's pre-Inauguration prayer, here it is. I think it is way more powerful, realistic, and appropriate than Rick Warren's. (Not that Warren's was inappropriate -- it was just less specifically appropriate.) He started with an acknowledgement of the reality of our world and asked God for the humanity to react appropriately -- with anger/sadness and with strength

The media really latched onto the phrase "bless us with anger", and honestly so did I, at first, but ultimately these two clauses were the ones that resonated with me that day:
  • Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
  • Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Anyway, please check out the video or the full text below, from http://www.nhepiscopal.org/artman/publish/article_750.shtml.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will:

Bless us with tears -- for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger -- at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort -- at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience -- and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility -- open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance -- replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity -- remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand -- that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.



  1. I loved Gene Robinson's prayer. I also appreciate your comments on the Pope. I am struggling with what it means to be a large C catholic. How do you deal with the church's discrimination against women?

  2. Oh, so many things to say about this one. But these 3 things have helped me most in my thought/discernment process:

    (1) Remember that "the Catholic church" refers to the community of Catholics around the world, NOT just the leadership. By that definition, any church you can come up with discriminates against / oppresses women, but not all the members do. In fact, maybe most of them don't!

    (2) Remember that everyone -- you, me, your parish priest, the Pope -- is constantly in the process of discerning God's will, and that none of us does it alone. We need to study, pray, and dialogue about it, and dissent/disagreement within the church is part of what eventually brings us all to a greater understanding.

    (3) Think of the Catholic church like your family. If you realized that someone in your family was totally sexist -- even if it was the patriarch, your grandfather or whatever -- I bet you wouldn't then abandon your family. If you were strong, you might try to help the see/treat the word differently; if not, you would probably just chalk it up to his being from a different generation and take comfort in the fact that the younger generations were more reasonable.

    One thing specific about the discrimination against / oppression of women: I see that not so much as a sexist thing as a flaw with the church's governance structure. Because of the way church leadership is chosen, change is slow to come. I would say that the body of the Catholic church is probably no more sexist than any other Christian church; it's just that the institution hasn't had time to reflect that change.

    Hope that helps! I can guarantee that I'll be writing more about this topic in the future. :)